It has been an emotionally tough road for a Whitehorse mother seeking justice for her murdered son.
Theresa Cormack, Adam Cormack’s mother, spoke with the Star Monday, sharing her feelings about the conviction of Edward James Penner.
In mid-September, a Yukon Supreme Court jury found Penner guilty of first-degree murder in the death of her son.
“I feel very relieved,” she said. “I couldn’t have asked for a better outcome.”
She felt the trial was fair overall.
That said, Theresa explained, the entire proceeding was hard to sit through. She expressed nervousness during the day and a half the jury spent deliberating.
“The waiting was the hard part,” Theresa said.
When the jury came back with the guilty verdict, she felt a weight get lifted off of her shoulders. She was relieved she did not have to look at Penner anymore.
She said Penner has taken her son away from her. Because of that, she will never see him get married or have kids of his own.
Other than this, she felt the trial went great.
She said Crown prosecutors Amy Porteous and Tom Lemon did an excellent job presenting their case.
She also commended Deputy Justice Scott Brooker for his presiding over the trial.
That said, she still has questions about what happened, that she will never get answers to.
She feels there is more to the story of Adam’s murder. She believes there may be others involved, or information that is not being shared with the RCMP nor herself.
She is convinced that people involved in the drug trade must know more.
She said her son was not a drug dealer, but did dabble in drugs.
“He did have his struggles,” Theresa said. “I’m not going to lie and say he didn’t.”
She felt Adam learned this from his father when he lived in Prince George, B.C.
He was around 10 years old at the time. She said she brought him to Whitehorse, where he turned his life around and worked hard.
Adam was the victim of an automobile accident in 2015. He was in a Jeep that flipped over.
He was somehow ejected from the vehicle, and it rolled on top of him, leaving him with multiple injuries. Some needed surgery.
In the aftermath of the accident, Theresa explained, Adam began slipping back into the drug culture despite her efforts to keep him out of it.
She tried to help him find jobs, but Adam could not get over his trauma caused by the accident.
“It was like he wanted to belong,” Theresa said.
She feels that if this accident had not taken place, Adam would never had gone back down that path.
She felt she and her two kids had experienced a good life together in Whitehorse.
They bought a house as a family. She said Adam helped purchase that home, which made it just as much his as it was hers.
She does not understand why some of the witnesses testified he had been hiding in the house, when it was his home.
She added that, to the best of his knowledge, Adam did not owe anyone any money either. She formed this opinion based on what she has heard.
“Maybe there were some things going on, but he was not hiding out at Mum’s,” Theresa said.
“This was his home.”
She and her daughter, Catherine, still own the home. She said, due to not having Adam’s contributions to the household, they are behind on the mortgage.
Adam’s murder has triggered other negative effects.
Both Theresa and her daughter suffer from anxiety and have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.
She explained that she used to be a very social person, but that has changed since. She feels like she is checking over her shoulder constantly.
“It’s tough, and I am trying to be strong,” Cormack said.
She found comfort and support in her church. She added that there has been great support from the community, the media, victim services personnel, the police and the Crown.
She clarified that there are so many people to thank that she is bound to forget someone.
“It’s hard to thank everyone that has been there,” Theresa said.
That said, some have not been as supportive. She reported that there have been individuals who have told her and her daughter how to grieve.
She said there have been comments made that she should be over this ordeal because her son’s murder occurred more than two years ago.
She said it has been a long two years in seeking justice – difficult years. She feels like she “has been rung through the ringer”.
Theresa never stopped missing Adam, she said.
“People telling us how to grieve is not right,” she said. “It’s not right to tell anybody how to grieve.”
She explained that she did not let herself grieve properly for two years. This was due to the fact that everything would be rehashed during the trial.
As a mother, she solely lived for her kids. She has been the sole parent for her two kids for a long time.
She said she raised her children to know right from wrong, and not to hurt anyone.
“I would vouch for Adam until I am blue in the face,” she said.
The bereaved mother had a shirt made for the preliminary hearing, featuring a photo of Adam along with his name. She wore it during that hearing, but was not allowed to during the jury trial.
“It’s a memorial for my son,” she said. “I wanted people to see that he was a good kid.”
She said he loved the outdoors, camping, hunting and fishing.
In her victim impact statement, she said she felt that Penner is no good to society. She stands by that statement.
Theresa added that she will be there in 25 years, when he is eligible for a parole hearing, to keep him in prison.
Theresa felt he showed no remorse at any point during the trial.
“He deserves to stay where he is for life,” Cormack said.
Penner’s lawyers presented no evidence during the trial, and he did not testify.